Friday, April 16, 2010

Leaders Debate Sparks Criticism From Freight Transport Association

Infrastructure Questions Unanswered
Shipping News Feature

UK - While many talking heads in the UK media are currently discussing the performance of the leaders of the three main parties in the television debate last night, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has expressed its continued dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity expressed by all parties on future plans for transport infrastructure.

In a statement the FTA says that: “Their election manifestos may be out, but the commitment to the logistics sector of the main political parties is still unclear.”

In its own Logistics Manifesto the FTA had called for future policy makers to commit to infrastructure investment for the good of the economy and the environment.

Jo Tanner of the FTA stated: “Labour’s pledge to tackle congestion with hard shoulder running is welcome, but it is no substitute for meaningful, long-term investment in our road infrastructure.

“Similarly, the Fair Fuel Stabiliser, which will link fuel duty levels with bulk oil prices, is an intriguing proposition, but despite its apparent commitment to a ‘modern transport network’, the lack of an explicit nod to the logistics sector does not engender much faith in the Tory manifesto either.

“Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat proposal to create a UK Infrastructure Bank is, again, a nice idea, but only if investment in our crumbling infrastructure is guaranteed.”

Though the FTA acknowledges that some policies have been directed at issues of importance to the UK logistics industry, such as aviation tax, the third runway at Heathrow and road pricing, they are disappointed in what they say is a lack of “…a firm commitment to improving the UK’s entire transport infrastructure.”

Tanner concluded: “What is clearly lacking is a joined-up commitment to improving infrastructure. To bring the greatest environmental and commercial benefits, the logistics sector must be treated as a whole. You simply cannot deliver an efficient supply chain by focusing on one mode of transport at the cost of others. For example, it is no good investing in rail at the expense of road, as the Liberal Democrats seem to extol: their successes are inextricably, and literally, linked.

“Holistic infrastructure investment is the only way to meet ongoing capacity and environmental challenges as, when it comes to the supply chain, we are really only as strong as our weakest link.”